BUCHAREST (AFP).- The opulent former residence of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was opened to the public for the first time on Saturday some 26 years after the fall of his Communist regime.
Ceausescu ruled Romania with an iron fist from 1965 until he was driven from power after a bloody uprising in December 1989 which saw him convicted of genocide then executed by firing squad several days later along with his wife Elena.
During Ceausescu's rule, the couple lived with their three children in the Primaverii (Spring) Palace in an upmarket district of Bucharest.
The residence "must be opened to the Romanian people who must make peace with their history and know about their past," said Violeta Alexandru, minister for civic dialogue and public consultations at the opening ceremony.
Built between 1964 and 1965 to the exact specifications of Ceausescu and his wife, the luxury residence has 80 rooms and is decorated throughout with Murano glass mirrors, chandeliers, colourful mosaics and other extravagant touches.
It has an indoor swimming pool, a cinema, an underground bunder and extended gardens where peacocks roam.
Over the years, it has been used as lodgings for visiting diplomats.
On its first day, the entrance fee was waived, with some 300 people visiting the site. It will next open to tourists from March 19 who will pay 30 lei to get in (6.70 euros/$7.50).
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